By What Authority?

authority, baptism, disobedience No Comments

In Mark 11:27-33, an exchange takes place between Jesus and his detractors. The religious leaders among the Jews challenge Jesus’ authority. Earlier, Jesus had cast out the merchandizers in the temple area (Mark 11:15). The event triggered the questions, “By what authority doest thou these things and who gave thee this authority” (Mark 11:28)?
The Question
The question is a valid question. We must be concerned about the authority behind what we do especially in matters that pertain to religion. Jesus’ enemies supposed that He had no authority to do or to teach the things He did. They know that they had not given Him this authority. They were not sincere in their quest. They were looking to find a way that they might accuse Jesus.
Jesus’ First Response
Jesus answered their question with a question. He asked, “The baptism of John, was it form heaven or from men?” Jesus showed that there are really only two choices regarding authority. Either authority comes from God, or it comes from men. If from God, then they must obey. If from men, then they could disregard it. In regards to John’s baptism, their actions had already betrayed them. They rejected it. Therefore, they did not hold that John was a prophet from God. Jesus revereses the obligation to answwer. He exposed by what authority they acted in disobedience to God. They were in reality following Satan by following their own wills.
The Challengers Respond
The internal thoughts of these men are revealed to us in Scripture. This is an indication of the inspiration of the Scriptures. Jesus’ opponents recognized that they were impaled upon the “horns of a dilemma.” If they say from heaven, then why didn’t they obey God? If they say from men, then they feared the people because the common person held that John was a prophet from God. They answered, “We cannnot tell” (Mark 11:33). First, if their statement is true, then they should have confessed their ignorance and humbly asked Jesus to explain. Second, if their statement is false, then they identified themselves with Satan (John 8:44). How did the common person know what they professed they did not know? Their actions betrayed their true beliefs. They rejected John’s baptism. John witnessed to Jesus (Jhon 5:33). If they accepted John as a prophet from God, then they would have to accept Jesus as the Christ (John 1:29).
The Lord’s Second Response
Jesus replied to them, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things” (Mark 11:33). Jesus said He would not tell. The answer was already apparent to the unprejudiced mind.
The Answer to the Unanswered Question
The gospel writers permit their readers to come to their own conclusions about the events of which they write. Jesus was sent from God and spoke for God (Heb. 1:1-2). He possessed authority because He was and is the Son of God (John 10:30). John writes that “these things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God (John 20:30-31). Jesus possesses all authority (Matt. 28:18). He does so because He is deity (John 1:1). This means that all of us are now in the position of the Jewish religious leaders. If Jesus is a prophet of God and speaks the word of God to men by what authority would we reject His teaching? If we have not obeyed Him, we have rejected God and are following the authority of men. Jesus also commanded baptism (Matt. 28:19, Mark 16:16 and John 3:3-5). To reject the teaching of Jesus is to betray the fact that we follow men not God. The baptism of the Great Commission is it from heaven or from men?